GCC Secretary-General to Asharq Al-Awsat: Gulf States Advancing Unified Tourist Visa

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Jassim Al Budaiwi. Photo: Website of the World Economic Forum’s special meeting in Riyadh
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Jassim Al Budaiwi. Photo: Website of the World Economic Forum’s special meeting in Riyadh
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GCC Secretary-General to Asharq Al-Awsat: Gulf States Advancing Unified Tourist Visa

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Jassim Al Budaiwi. Photo: Website of the World Economic Forum’s special meeting in Riyadh
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Jassim Al Budaiwi. Photo: Website of the World Economic Forum’s special meeting in Riyadh

Gulf Cooperation Council Secretary-General Jassim Al Budaiwi confirmed that GCC nations are working towards introducing a unified Gulf visa for global travelers.

Al Budaiwi mentioned that during their recent summit in Doha, Gulf leaders greenlit a single tourist visa for the region.

They urged the General Secretariat, along with member states, especially the Ministry of Interior representatives, to fast-track its implementation.

This move aims to allow any international visitor to explore the Gulf countries with just one visa.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s special meeting in Riyadh, Al Budaiwi expressed hope that this step would boost regional tourism and save travelers time and money.

Recent data shows that the travel and tourism sector contributed 7.8% to the GDP of GCC countries in 2022. They aim to raise this to 10% in the future.

Al Budaiwi confirmed progress on the unified visa, with discussions in their final stages among Gulf countries. He stressed the need for careful consideration due to security and technical concerns.

Regarding trade agreements, Al Budaiwi mentioned completed deals with Pakistan and South Korea last year and a recent one with Türkiye.

Talks are ongoing for a trade agreement with the UK, with discussions planned in the next two weeks.

Talks with the EU have been on hold for over a decade, but both sides are interested in resuming discussions.

“A delegation from the GCC General Secretariat will visit to initiate preliminary discussions, not negotiations, with EU representatives,” said Al Budaiwi.



Saudi Arabia Unveils Extensive Mineralized Belts for Exploration Firms

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)
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Saudi Arabia Unveils Extensive Mineralized Belts for Exploration Firms

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for launched mineralized belts (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources has unveiled its largest mineralized belts to date, spanning 4.7 thousand square kilometers and including five new exploration licenses.
The Ministry is inviting major mining and exploration companies to participate in the current Exploration Licensing Rounds, aiming to unlock the extensive mineral wealth of these belts.
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Jarrah Al-Jarrah, emphasized that this initiative underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to strengthening its mining and minerals sector and creating investment opportunities.

The five available exploration licenses are part of the Ministry’s strategy to boost exploration investment and support Vision 2030 objectives, which aim to position mining as a key industry in the Kingdom.
These licenses cover significantly larger areas than previous rounds and are targeted at high-net-worth companies with developed base and precious metal mines.
Saudi Arabia is seeking investors capable of exploring and discovering large, tier-1 deposits within approximately 1,000 square kilometers of exploration licenses. The Kingdom’s infrastructure and competitive financing options make it well-positioned to develop new tier-1 sites.
The Ministry is inviting local and international companies to participate in the Exploration Licensing for the following mineralized belts:
- Jabal Sayid: Three exploration licenses covering 2,892 square kilometers. The belt contains copper, zinc, lead, gold, and silver.
- Al-Hajjar: Two exploration licenses at the Wadi Shwas VMS Belt, covering 1,896 square kilometers. This site holds deposits of gold, silver, copper, and zinc.
Al-Jarrah highlighted that Jabal Sayid and Al-Hajjar are the largest mineralized belt sites ever launched by the Kingdom.
The bidding process for the exploration licenses will be transparent and conducted in stages, beginning with pre-qualification from July to October 2024.
Qualified bidders will then submit technical proposals and social and environmental impact management plans by December 2024, with the winners announced and licenses granted in January 2025.